What are the magic ingredients of running a business with your life partner? We ask three couples...

Paul and Gemma, Mackman Group

Paul and Gemma, Mackman Group - Credit: Archant

Going into business with your nearest and dearest is not for everyone although plenty of people do . But just what are the magic ingredients that go towards making the relationship succeed - both in work and out? Three couples offer advice....

Laura and Robert Strathern, Fairfield Crisps

Laura and Robert Strathern, Fairfield Crisps - Credit: Archant

Paul and Gemma Mackman, Mackman marketing agency, Sudbury

What are the pros or con of working together as a couple?

You get to work with someone that you really trust and admire and because you understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses you are then able to complement each other working in a naturally collaborative and effective way. You also get to talk openly and frankly with a colleague in a way that you normally wouldn’t dream of. As for cons - you can’t bitch about or blame things on the boss.

How do you switch off from work matters in the evening?

It’s simple - just have a rule to not talk about it, and have teenage kids to keep you distracted. Yes, it is totally possible, just ensure that you live a life outside of work and actively create a healthy work life balance.

Any advice for couples who are considering going into business together?

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett

Michael Grist and Jill Barrett - Credit: Archant

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Consider yourself to be united force at work both pushing in the same direction. Define your roles and responsibilities but also be prepared to step forward to support one another when needed. Remember that your relationship with each other is the most important, so keep the love and don’t let the business become the other man or woman.

Laura and Robert Strathern, Fairfield Farm, nr Colchester

What are the pros and cons of working together as a couple?

It’s good to have common goals and a mutual understanding of what’s needed to get things over the line, although it can be difficult living and breathing work, particularly when you live where you work and with each other.

Any advice to couples considering going into business together?

It’s a great thing to do, although there will be inevitably a few challenging bumps in the road along the way. It’s really important to enjoy the process and what you do, without that it cannot work.

Michael and Jill Barrett, Barretts department store of Woodbridge

What are the pros of working together as a couple?

There are many late evenings, and whilst the long hours are not ideal, at least we are spending time with each other!

Seriously, we do rely heavily on one another when discussing new ideas and issues affecting the store, and there’s a huge respect for each other’s opinion and judgement. It makes the decision making process more assured and confident.

Are there any cons?

We don’t always see eye to eye, and whilst the disagreements are few and far between, they can get quite enthusiastic. As Jill is the company owner, she has the final say but to be fair, she rarely ‘pulls rank’ [on Michael] and it’s almost always a collective decision.

How do you switch off from work matters in the evening?

We love doing the Times2 crossword puzzle, which usually absorbs all our attention, but switching off is never easy.

Anyway, we quite like a good ‘chin-wag’ on how the day went!

Any advice for couples who are considering going into business together?

Go for it! You really must enjoy each other’s company, have a healthy respect for one another, and be prepared to compromise a lot.

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